Researcher ORCID Identifier
Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Science, Technology and Society
Professor Gabriela Morales
Professor Annelle Curulla
© 2023 Marina S Riad
The introduction of desalination technology to the water network in Dakar, Senegal marks a monumental change in how state and commercial interests aim to solve systemic problems using novel technologies. Desalination aims to transform the ocean surrounding Dakar into potable water, a vital resource in the growing metropolis. However, this desalination project must integrate itself within a network of social, historical, political, commercial, and ecological influences shaping the role of desalination in urban Dakar. With millions of dollars and an entire ocean mobilized towards solving Dakar’s water problems, it may come as a surprise that this project will only provide water for around 5% of Dakar at its fullest capacity. Borrowing a term from STS scholar Bruno Latour, I aim to find the “missing masses”, the puzzle piece that makes sense of this small-scale project with such a large-scale institutional effort. The publicity surrounding this project assigns it intangible values that address cultural insecurities, and this project ultimately represents more change than it enacts. However, these are not the only “missing masses” in this network: the masses themselves, the Dakarois public who stand to benefit from this public works project, are largely missing from the influences shaping this desalination project. This project occupies a beach that has historically served local and autochthonous communities as a hub of culture, recreation, and commerce. Ultimately, this thesis aims to center relationships and people in a project that has been largely decontextualized and de-peopled by the institutional power surrounding it.
Riad, Marina, "Desalination and Development: Locating the Missing Masses in Dakar’s Water Network" (2023). Scripps Senior Theses. 2099.
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